Readers Say

After treating COVID-19 patients, Elizabeth Danaher was inspired to run Boston

"Instead of reacting to changes the pandemic threw at me, I could refocus my efforts and proactively address the rehabilitation needs of my neighbors."

Elizabeth Danaher never thought she could run the marathon until she saw the perseverance of her COVID-19 patients.

In our “Why I’m Running” series, Boston Marathon runners share what’s inspiring them to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston. If you’re running the marathon, you can share your #WhyImRunningBoston story here.

Name: Elizabeth Danaher
Age: 47
From: Waltham

As a Spaulding employee, every year I receive an e-mail asking for applications to join the Spaulding Race for Rehab team to run the Boston Marathon. Every year, I think, no way, a marathon is beyond my abilities. That was before my floor was converted to a COVID-19 rehabilitation ward.


As a physical therapist normally treating patients with neurological issues, I was suddenly working with patients who struggled to breathe even when lying down in bed. They were scared of dying and needed encouragement to fight. My therapy team and I helped them to slowly regain the ability to tolerate sitting up or stand and then walk without starving for oxygen. We diligently measured oxygen levels and checked heart rates that skyrocketed throughout treatment sessions. The work was exhausting, emotionally draining, and uncomfortable, wearing the gowns, gloves, goggles, and face shields required to treat those infected, safely. We did it willingly though, knowing that our discomfort paled when compared to the pain, exhaustion, and fear of our patients.

When I saw the Race for Rehab email in my inbox this March, I found myself thinking that there was an opportunity for me to show myself that I can do something positive for myself and my community. Instead of reacting to changes the pandemic threw at me, I could refocus my efforts and proactively address the rehabilitation needs of my neighbors. I could also use this training as an avenue to resiliency and improved mental health for myself!

Therefore, I joined Spaulding’s Race for Rehab team to help raise money and awareness for the amazing things that Spaulding is doing to help improve the lives of people with disabilities. Funds raised by the Team support Spaulding’s President’s Fund, dedicated to innovative enhancements to patient care, teaching and groundbreaking research initiatives.


Editor’s note: Entry may have been lightly edited for clarity or grammar.


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